EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

March 6, 2013

Derry school budget proposed at $81.9M

By Julie Huss
jhuss@eagletribune.com

---- — DERRY — Voters will consider a proposed $81.9 million school budget and will choose two School Board members at the polls Tuesday.

The budget number includes the self-funded food service and other federal programs, and reflects a 1.65 percent increase over the current budget.

The final budget number came after a handful of residents voted to restore $800,000 into the budget during the annual deliberative session held last month.

That money could save 14 positions that were set to be cut next year, including teachers, maintenance workers, office staff and assistants.

Budget increases include an increase in the tuition rate to send Derry’s students to Pinkerton Academy, up 2.76 percent to $10,292 per student for next year.

Derry joins other communities facing shortfalls in money coming from the state for adequacy aid. The district also will have to pay more in state retirement and health-care costs for its employees.

District business administrator Jane Simard said every item in the budget, every possible place to save money, was studied. School Board members, the volunteer fiscal advisory committee and school administrators worked together to forge a fiscal plan for next year.

“We looked at every line item to make cuts or increases wherever they needed to be,” Simard said.

A warrant article on a new three-year collective bargaining agreement between the district and the AFSCME teacher assistants’ union will also be on the ballot.

In addition to the budget, voters will choose two School Board members.

Incumbents Brenda Willis and Ken Linehan are both seeking three-year terms on the board and are running against newcomers Jeri Murphy and Melanie Davis.

Derry School Board candidates

:Name: Ken Linehan

Age: 48

Occupation: Product manager

Incumbent: Yes

Elective experience:@text1_boldintro\:: Derry School Board

What is the most important issue facing the Derry School Board?:We need to maximize our resources to provide for the educational needs of Derry’s children while being fiscally responsible to the taxpayers.

Name: Brenda Willis

Age: 58

Occupation: Executive director NH PTA

Incumbent: Yes

Elective experience: School Board, Charter Commission

:What is the most important issue facing the Derry School Board?: Educating children, meeting all mandates, including implementation of Common Core Standards, while facing decreased revenue, and increases the School board doesn’t have control over.

Name: Jeri Murphy

Age: 44

Occupation: Self-employed/personal trainer

Incumbent: No

Elective experience: None

What is the most important issue facing the Derry School Board?: The same issues facing the rest of the community, how to provide the most and best we can with the money available.

Name: Melanie Davis

Age: 38

Occupation: Sales representative

Incumbent: No

Elective experience: None

What is the most important thing facing the Derry School Board?: There is a disconnect between School Board, staff and the community. It’s important to bridge the gap between schools and the community.